Helderberg in the wind

This morning I had a wander around the Helderberg Reserve.  There was a light breeze but it was baking hot.  I sat under the Keurboom (what is that in English?  – Kigelaria Africana) and sat contemplating the mountain.  There was a terrapin the size of a matchbox sunning itself on a lily pad but it scooted off before I could take a picture (or a sketch heh heh).  I was attracted by the lilies which are all flowering.  So I painted the lilies rather than the whole scene.  mmm – what do you think?


This is how they looked:


You can see the reflection of the sky and the mountain.  When the water is still I could see all the detail and colour of the mountain in the reflection.  And the reflection is much darker than the lilies.  Look at all the yellows and greens!  Definitely something for the studio.  While I was painting a group of people came to see the painting and chat.   They were speaking an Eastern language and I learned that the father of the wife of one of the couples had come out from Taiwan to visit his daughter and – well – I just felt it would be good for him to have this painting so I caught up to the couple and  asked her to give it to her father.

When I sat down again I did this painting:


Still not what I want to achieve but there it is.  While I was painting I chatted with another local couple to whom I gave another painting and also to a lady who also paints in watercolours.  So – a nice friendly morning – very lekker.

Later I wandered up to the forest (where the wedding had taken place last year) where I painted this watercolour:


Also another place I would like to paint again.  Pine forests are so therapeutic.  There was a raptor flying at the edge of the forest calling with a plaintive cry and the wind blew through through the trees with a rushing sound.  I remembered the nights when I used to sleep in Newlands Forest when I studied at the University of Cape Town.  A little bit of magic.

12 thoughts on “Helderberg in the wind

  1. Your paintings are a little bit of magic, also. Your admiration for Charles Reid shows up in that first watercolor of the pond. Love it. Look at all that transparent color and those brushstrokes. In the second one, I think your light had changed. That’s the difference I see. Still like the pole-like trees and their shadows. Hope you snapped a picture of the raptor, lol.

    • Hi Leslie – thanks for this – you help me look at my work in a new light. Painting in the heat is so different from the cold and wet (not that this should be surprising). The colour dries so fast. I was unable to photograph the bird but will be going up there again soon I hope. S

  2. i love your paintings of these waterlillies. You were so kind to offer it to the tourists.

    Also love the pine forest, but as you probably know, i am partial to trees. I love your strong trees with their shadows dancing on the forest floor and the green mountain in the background.

    I would like to ask permission to try painting one using your reference photo.

    I would also like to point out that as long as you insist on writing your dates in this odd South African fasion and not the good old American way (day, month,year), you could at least get the date correct.

    I was so confused. Shouldn’t it be: 20100104

    Also, please note: keurboom,, noun – fast-growing roundheaded tree with fragrant white to deep rose flowers; planted as an ornamental

    whew, my work here is done.

    • Hey Carol
      Thanks for the description of keurboom – they have such fragrant blossoms in spring. The carpenter bees seem to love them too. My little tree at the dam, alas, is still too small to provide shade but they really do grow fast – so.. They are actually pioneer trees. We find them on the outskirts of indigenous forest here where they provide shelter for the young giants like yellow-woods and black stink-woods.

      As far as the date goes, I put it in just to make the posting easy to trace. WordPress seems to save it in the first name used. I have changed the heading to something more interesting. Actually the date works for me in the way I save documents – when I get the date correct (o: – I am sorry about this I will try to remember to change the heading sooner.

      By all means go ahead and use the photo to paint. I intend to go up there again soon to take some photos of the trees and shadows and will let you have what I take. mmm I love trees. We are in the middle of a heat-wave here, the temperature sitting over 35 deg C. And our house is fairly cool in the shade of the forest I planted here years ago. Calvin used to sit on my lap on a rock next to the trees (White Stinkwoods) at our front door when he was 1 year old. I had to stop him from pulling the top leaves off. Now he is 18 and can climb onto the roof using the tree. Well – he would not be seen climbing a tree now – but he used to… Actually this would make a good painting one day, my forest.

  3. Oh sure RUB IN THE FACT THAT YOU’RE SWELTERING while I now have to go put on Silk thermals, pants, socks shirt, fleece, coat, hat, scarf and gloves to walk my dog.

  4. I think all three of these are refreshingly different in that they aren’t of broad landscapes…which you do beautifully, but it’s good to zoom in on the details as well. They give the impression that you were very relaxed and carefree when you painted them. As Leslie said, magical! I enjoyed your written description of the scene and love that you gave two of them away.

    That Carol, discussing her underwear …she has no shame!

  5. Hi stephen,

    You’re making me so envious of sunshine & open air with these descriptions, photos & watercolours. What a beautiful lake. Also what an amazing piece of coastline in that other photo. Here in SW France it’s cold ,damp & miserable. Not very inspiring, but at least it gives me an opportunity to catch up with some blogs I like to look at!
    By the way, what are carpenter bees like?

    • Hey Sonya – nice to hear from you. I have a dead carpenter bee that I wanted to sketch – maybe later.
      They are about 15mm long and have big jaws. The bees or the larvae chew large tunnels in dead trees I think. Not a very scientific description I know. I shall find out more from my entomologist friends.

      It is hard to imagine cold and damp weather from the paintings of your area but this is the Mediterranean winter I suppose. I have to say that I am summer person. Winter is refreshing and all that but give me a heat-wave any day. I remember long ago sitting under a camel-thorn tree in the Namib desert, too hot to move, with cicadas shrieking and an Gemsbok (Oryx) stepping slowly across the flats through the shimmering heat in the distance. Ai!

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